WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2012 AT 7:19AM
Only 2 to 3 years ago, the electric scene at Interbike was small. With the addition of the e-bike test track, anyone could find out what e-bikes were all about.
This year marks an inflection point for e-bikes. The number of manufacturers appeared to have doubled or tripled. The once sleepy test track now required booth registrations and instantly maxed out at 27 slots with other manufactures sneaking on track to get test rides. Lines formed to sign out loaner helmets which were just not enough to go around.
E-bikes have survived the fad stage and now moved into the mainstream. Many brands with e-bikes in Europe have brought along their 250W European spec e-bikes for display alongside their other bicycle offering.
Some big manufactures added kits to their existing bicycle frames to quickly get a foot into the e-bike market. In less than 2 years, every manufacturer and retailer will need to have a detailed strategy on how to include e-bikes to their lineup. The segment is just growing too fast to ignore and this phenomenon is an exact repeat of what happened in Europe. E-bikes once rejected in Europe are now front and center - driving the growth for an otherwise flat industry.
Vegas: Here to gamble.
We were on the street level where most of the smaller, more nimble companies risk showing off their innovative products. We were also set up on the newly reconfigured e-bike test track.
The response to the new ODK Utility E-Bike was very positive. People are starting to see the benefit of having more range and cargo space. The low-step design and 20'' wheel platform is fundamental to reducing the intimidation factor that might be associated with e-bikes.
People are demanding more range so we lead the pack with the largest capacity on the market. Most bikes excel in the 5-minute test ride, but we insist on features that riders are not aware that they need… till later.
The newly redesigned rear rack is more functional and can accommodate more accessories. Riders who take longer trips tend to take more stuff so nailing those features in a refined package is critical to our success.
E-Bikes: Getting real.
As the e-bike market expands, reliable and less expensive products are starting to hit the market, we are starting to see a diversification of e-bike form factors.
We will soon start to move beyond the raw specs and began thinking about the job a e-bike can do and how well the product accomplishes this task. The sporty, classic, folding and utility bikes segments are forming.
It will no longer be competitive to add a motor kit to a normal pedal bicycle and proclaim to have entered the e-bike race. The e-bike revolution will require a rethink of the bicycle and its function. This shift will require us to scrap the legacy of the pedal bike and forge a new path to include the complexities of the electric assist system, the rider, and job the e-bike will do.